It was not that long ago that Daryl Morey admitted that he and the Rockets were "obsessed" with beating the Warriors. It was more than talk. The Rockets tried (and failed) to one-up Golden State's 3-point barrage system.
Now, it appears as though the team has adopted a new mindset in preparation for the 2019-20 season.
In an interview with 97.9 The Box, Harden was asked which team he preferred to face in the playoffs. The former NBA MVP, however, pointed out that all he cares about is his team and insisted that they are ready to face anyone.
“We focus on ourselves,” Harden said. “We’ve got so much talent in that locker room, and our organization is so great. We don’t pay attention to other teams. We just focus on what we control, our team, and being the best we can be. Whoever we face, let’s get it on.”
With the Warriors hobbling, the Lakers adjusting, and the Nuggets learning, it's easy for the Rockets to feel confident now. Though there will have to be a learning curve for them, they are coming back with mostly the same core of shooters and role-players.
Harden and Westbrook have history and will develop chemistry with each other. The question for Houston, however, is really about how much they will be willing to sacrifice for the other.
That remains to be seen.